The most daunting thing about resolutions is the maintenance; this is where most people fail. You cannot expect to make lifestyle changes in a week, month, or even quarter. Lifestyle changes take a lifetime – it says so in the title – so you can’t expect things to take on that quickly.
Take baby steps that lead towards your goal. Once that stage becomes easy, take it one step further. This will insure staying power and therefore, turn into a lifestyle change.
Instead of vowing to lose 20 pounds, commit to working out three times a week. If you become too focused on the number, you will get discouraged after being healthy for one week and see that the scale hasn’t budged – or even for one month. It’s been proven that body composition makes the type of changes most people want – a more ‘cut’ and toned figure – than your weight. While keeping an eye on weight is important, it is crucial to enjoy the process of becoming healthy; the results will come naturally.
Instead of cutting junk food, commit to adding a serving of vegetables at each meal. Putting a moratorium on certain foods only makes it that much more appealing. Try telling yourself you will stop eating sugar forever. You will start thinking about it and seeing it 24/7. Instead, think of adding or swapping a healthy version at every meal. Opt for a side salad or even a baked potato with your burger. Swap out maple syrup on your oatmeal with fruit to sweeten it up. Choose a side of steamed veggies instead of macaroni and cheese when you’re dining out.
Instead of pledging to read one book a month, plan to read 10 minutes a day. Reading is one of those ‘good for you’ hobbies that everyone should pick up. But it is very off-putting to see 400 pages in one book and knowing you only have so many hours in the day to do your daily duties – let alone add frivolous reading. Additionally, you do not want to speed read just so you can ‘get through’ a book. The benefit in reading is in paying attention to what you have read and applying the lesson in real life – or in case of fictional books, the benefit is to use your imagination and play the scene in your head to get out of your own life and relax. To do either one of these, you have to take your time.
Instead of making weekly chore wheels, try cleaning up after yourself each day. Weekends are so precious for me. My husband works the whole day during the week, and oftentimes travel for work – so weekends are sacred. If I see a long list of chores to do that takes up more than half a day, I will get discouraged and either: a) not do them and feel guilty all weekend, or b) do them and waste my weekend. To mitigate this, I try to clean up after myself each day. There are some instances where that is just not feasible – like when I make a particularly fancy meal that requires all the dishes – so I just make a mental note to do that first thing when I get back from work or early next morning. Even if you have more instances where you can’t, trying makes enough of a difference to cut down on your weekly chores.
Instead of cooking fresh meals every day, meal prep one meal a week. The ideal life is one where you eat fresh foods all day every day. If you’re used to buying food every day – whether it be your morning latte or lunches – committing to bringing fresh foods daily is a far jump. Instead, plan out maybe one breakfast item you will have for the week. Cook and pack it so that you can just grab and go every morning. For variety, change up the toppings. If you’re having oatmeal, top it with different fruits every day. If you’re having muffins, make a pan with a variety of different sweets inside.
Instead of pledging to save 25% of your paycheck, cut one frivolous expense at a time. Saving money for old age is probably on everyone’s resolutions list. It is noble. It is difficult. And it is overwhelming. Start by reviewing how you spend your money on a normal week and see what you can cut out. For example, instead of getting a manicure every two weeks, think of getting the tools needed to do it yourself. Instead of buying Starbucks every day, try making your own lattes. Instead of gettingyour hair colored professionally, every 6 weeks, try a home box kit. It seems small, but these little things add up very fast.
More importantly, you cannot commit to lifestyle changes by the first of the year – so let’s stop putting pressures on ourselves.